The little girl next door knocks on my door. I opened it recognizing her little knock. She asked, “Is Tyler here?”. I smiled, “I’m sorry, he’s at his dad’s”. She smiles, “Oh man…well, can we play on your playground?”. I told her yes, and she took off running while alerting her brothers and sisters.

My back yard is referred to as the “playground”, because these children don’t have much space in their own yards to play on. For some reason, I had the biggest yard out of the strip of homes in this mini neighborhood. So, I embraced it by setting up a tire swing, a swing set, fire pit and a hammock. These are the things that make my yard considered a playground in these children’s eyes.

There are nine kids all together in the neighborhood, sometimes less because of the father’s custody agreement and sometimes more when they have friends over for sleep overs. At times, it can be overwhelming, but most of the time, I enjoy their company. I love seeing their smiles, learning their personalities, and watching them interact with my son.

My house has became a haven for them, as they love to come visit me and talk about their day. This one little girl has touched my heart as she has been my son’s true best friend for the past 3 years. She will drive me crazy with taking my food and snacks, playing with my coffee stirrers and beg me to take her to McDonalds, but she is a child of such emotion. She loves to dance, she loves to play tag and she loves to play hide -go-seek inside my car.

I knew my house meant to her more than I thought, when she came in one day and cried on my shoulder that her father had a stroke the day before and she was worried about him. She explained how they missed their father daughter dance. I gave her a hug and we cried together. She came to me about her good days, her bad days and even her sad days.

My house became the central home for all of the children, and I was okay with that. I would play with them, dance with them, give advice, tell them when they’re their doing wrong and gave them my shoulder if they needed it. Most of all, it was a home that we created with love and open arms for all. 

It was also helpful that they all came to me, because I’m very protective of my son. I don’t like that he steers too far from me. This way, I can be aware of his environment and influences immediately. 

My yard is called the Playground, because that’s where all kids play and come together regardless of their differences. There were lots of personality clashes between the neighborhood children, but in our yard, through me and my son, we kept them together the best we could. We brought them together in spite of the variance of their nature. 

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Written by J. Marie

Mom of three boys. Assistant Manager - Meris Gardens Bed & Breakfast . Blogger . Photographer . Marketing Director . Custom Art . Part-Time Student . Pursuing career in Mental Health Services

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